Have you got a big event coming up? Something really worth celebrating in your family, like a wedding, golden anniversary, baby shower, special birthday, bar mitzvah, Sweet 16 or Quinceanera? Anyone who's been listening to the radio show knows that's where my head has been of late. And I'm a big believer that there's nothing quite like the memories life's biggest milestones can create. Unfortunately, that's also why it's so easy to forget about pesky details like price tags and budgets.
The reality is that even the most beautiful memories can be overshadowed by a debt hangover. In fact, overspending on a big event is a surefire way to spoil it in the long run. Instead of the fanciest venue or the most elaborate sit-down dinner, concentrate instead on this stellar piece of advice from David Tutera, a celebrity wedding and party planner and a former guest on my Oprah Radio XM radio show: "If a guest can go to a wedding and walk away knowing more about the bride and groom, that's what makes a wedding much more unique." The same goes for any other type of special event. It's about the person, not the party.
I'm not saying it isn't tempting to splurge. Restraint is especially difficult when everyone around you seems to be spending uncontrollably. The average price of a wedding these days is $22,000—that could buy you a new car. And it's not unheard of to drop $20,000 on a Sweet 16, complete with chocolate fountains, designer dresses I'd kill for and the child of honor's name lit up in neon.
So how do you throw a wonderful party that everyone will cherish without spending the equivalent of the GDP of a small country? Here are some things to keep in mind before the planning begins.